Friday, July 16, 2010

Jesus didn't save me...

I'll dare to say it...

Lately I've been considering the thought,

"If Jesus died for my sins, He failed, because I still sin. He didn't save me from my sins at all."

Because guess what? I still sin! "Sin" meaning causing others pain, doing things I don't want to do like getting mad or sad, thinking only of myself, etc. It is true that Jesus motivates and inspires me to love others... and that in the midst of "sin" He renews my perspective and changes my focus.

But I still sin.

For a long time, I didn't know how to accept this. If I love Jesus and do this whole Christian thing, why do I still sin? Why do others, whom I respect, who've spent countless hours praying and reading the Bible, still hurt me? It just doesn't make sense. And quite honestly, it sounds like a lot of effort for little result.

Or I've simply missed the point. And the classic Christian saying, "Jesus saved me from my sins," leaves out an awful lot of important information.

I can already hear my mother saying, "But Jesus saves us from the consequences of our sin!" Okay I can see that, sort of... or not, because I still have to face the consequences when I hurt a friend or am self-absorbed, etc. But I know she is referring to the illusive "Hell" - the dark, scary place that little is actually known about.

In fact, I did a little research on it. "Hell" turns out to be quite a confusing idea. Jesus Himself referenced several different types of hell. It's as though the Bible couldn't make up its mind. If you would like more information about this study - please reference Bruxy Cavey and the podcast "Hell" recorded 11/23/08 as part of the Beyond the Grave series.

I am not a Christian because I am afraid of hell. That just sounds, well, sad - and means that all Christian faith is really motivated by fear. "Become a Christian, or else... you'll go to hell!" I know that's why I became one when I was four years old. I came into my parents room crying, "Please don't let me go to hell!"

Is that really the reason we believe?
I sure hope not.

So if I am not a Christian to avoid sin or to escape hell, then why am I one?

To live free now.

Not free from sin (or the act of sinning)....

But free from guilt and condemnation. In fact, with Jesus, I can "sin" better. I can hurt your feelings, realize I did it, then do something about it. I realize that people are able to do this frequently without God's help... to some extent. But I've seen inside my soul and know its potential to do evil, and I know how weak willed I can be to do what I know is right. Exhibit A would be ice cream. I just know I shouldn't eat more of it... but oh I want it so bad.... God strengthens me, compels me, to embrace courage when I just couldn't find it within myself. And saves me from this sickening guilt I often feel when "my dark side" wins.

I am free from trying to do everything on my own. From trying to be "good" and do good on my own effort. It's exhausting, trying to be perfect. With Jesus, I can let go of that unrealistic expectation and embrace reality. I am imperfect and this is a beautiful thing. He is God and I am not. If only I would quit trying to be a god...

I am free to heal. He heals me when people just can't. When nobody will apologize. When I just can't find what I am looking for in anything I do - no matter how hard I work, how much I play. I move from constantly striving... to peace. I base my identity in how He sees me - which frees me from anchoring it to any of the thousand unstable options available in our world. Which oddly, frees me to adjust quicker and changes my perspective.

He frees me. Now. From too many things to list in a blog (you would get bored). So I am trying to think of a better, shorter way to sum it all up, because when people ask, "Why are you a Christian?" I just can't say, "Because Jesus died for my sins and saved me from hell." It just simply won't do.